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Dark Is Not Evil

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"So yes, black mages often can be evil. But black as a color is not inherently evil. Being influenced by black’s philosophies does not necessarily mean that one will commit an evil act. That being the case, we cannot say that black represents evil. More closely aligned with evil than the other colors? Fine. More ripe with potential for evil? Sure. Evil? No. And that's a very important distinction."
Mark Rosewater, Making Magic: In The Black
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So, you have a race of people who all have black, leathery wings. They're born with the ability to shoot black, shadowy globs out of their hands. Also, they prefer the night, and let's not get started on their wardrobes. Surely, they're evil!

Except...no one has actually mentioned them doing bad things; in fact, they may actually be pretty good guys. It's not like they keep pet dogs exclusively for kicking. Despite any images that may have been burned into our minds, creepy appearances and killing people actually don't have much to do with each other. Unfortunately, however, people can still judge them based on their looks. Expect some Van Helsing Hate Crimes to be committed, especially by dickish Knight Templars who claim to side with the holy light.

This trope can be a subversion or aversion of several other tropes depending on how it's played, including Beauty Equals Goodness, Always Chaotic Evil, and Colour-Coded for Your Convenience. A common use for it is for the "Don't judge a book by its cover" Aesop. It can also be used to promote Evil Is Cool and Evil Is Sexy, and sometimes Even Evil Has Standards, except without the, uh... evil. Even though with the subtle (or not so) undertone of Humans Are Bastards that this trope implies, using this does not automatically enforce Light Is Not Good; in fact, stories where Light Is Good and Dark Is Not Evil are quite common.

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The extreme form of this is The Sacred Darkness, where Dark is not just not Evil, but is in fact equally holy and Good as Light (or even more so) is typically perceived to be. In situations where The Sacred Darkness exists, however, Dark Is Not Evil is not an absolute certainty, and the usual caveats about Light Is Not Good still apply.

Light Is Not Good, Good Powers, Bad People are sister tropes. For the inverse, see Dark Is Evil. A natural implication of the Yin-Yang Bomb. See also Good All Along, Bad Powers, Good People, Creepy Good, Face of a Thug, Terror Hero, Perky Goth, Our Monsters Are Different, Anti-Antichrist, Reluctant Monster, Good Is Not Nice, Good Is Not Soft, and Halloweentown. When vampires are involved, this trope generally puts them on the friendly end of the Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness, often resulting in a Friendly Neighbourhood Vampire. Gods of the underworld and death in particular can be this, since Everybody Hates Hades.

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Contrast Evil Wears Black.


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    Fairy Tales 
  • In The Black Thief and the Knight of the Glen, the title thief is a thief. Nevertheless, he generously throws his lot in with the three princes to help them, and in the course of the tale, he reveals that he saved the knight's life as a baby at considerable danger to himself.
  • The original tale of The Little Mermaid had the Witch as not being evil, just neutral and clearly warning of the risks. In at least some versions, she even informs the mermaid's sisters about how to save her.
  • While many folklorical black dogs are malevolent, some are this trope instead. Eg. the Gurt Dog of Somerset in Britain is thought to protect children and lone travellers.
  • According to Alpine folklore, the demonic goat figure Krampus is the polar opposite of Santa Claus in that while Santa rewards good children with gifts, Krampus punishes naughty children using harsh punishments. It's because of this that he's often depicted as a good guy within countries that honor Krampus-related traditions in spite of him being a goat demon (although you might not get that within certain works of fiction).

    Professional Wrestling 

    Theatre 

    Theme Parks 
  • This is a common interpretation of the Ghost Host and the Happy Haunts from The Haunted Mansion and other attractions at Disney Theme Parks. This is supported by the line in "Grim Grinning Ghosts", "They pretend to terrorize," implying that, like with the citizens of Halloween Town, it's all in good fun for them. This is more blatant in the Expanded Universe material, specifically the movie and the game, where the ghosts are the victims that the heroes need to save.

    Visual Novels 


 
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Alternative Title(s): Dark Is Good, Good Guys Wear Black

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Pajama Sam darkness

The entire game is built up to a final confrontation with Darkness, with Sam ready to seal him away in his lunchbox. Turns out though hes not such a bad guy after all.

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